Digital Media Center
Bryant-Denny Stadium, Gate 61
920 Paul Bryant Drive
Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0370
(800) 654-4262

© 2024 Alabama Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

How entertainment media could change in 2024

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP #1: (Chanting) We want it.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP #2: (Chanting) Fair pay.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP #1: (Chanting) We want it.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP #2: (Chanting) Fair pay.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP #1: (Chanting) We want it.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP #2: (Chanting) Fair pay.

JUANA SUMMERS, HOST:

That sound of Hollywood writers protesting during a strike that would last 148 days is a prime example of why 2023 was such a tough year for television and for media. Along with the actors and writers strikes, the last 12 months have brought widespread layoffs across media companies, including here at NPR. And then there are the price hikes at streaming services and questions about whether cable TV can survive in an era of rampant cord-cutting. But NPR TV critic Eric Deggans says media's troubles this year offer clues about the most important questions companies will face next year. Hey, Eric.

ERIC DEGGANS, BYLINE: Hi.

SUMMERS: So, Eric, we heard there the sounds of protests from the strikes that hobbled the film and TV industry this year. And I'm assuming one big question for 2024 is, how will entertainment get going again after so much downtime?

DEGGANS: Absolutely. But it's almost a deeper question than that because what we also saw this year was a lot of important TV shows wrap up their series runs. So programs like "Barry" on HBO, "The Crown" on Netflix and my pick for best TV show of the year, HBO's "Succession" - they all ended in 2023. So I predict we're going to see a bit of a lull in high-quality TV shows in the beginning of 2024, particularly among the streaming services which have these long lead times for production. And they need to restock their lineups. And we also saw a lot of shows canceled unexpectedly during the strikes, which raises questions about diversity. I mean, shows that got canceled include programs starring and led by people from marginalized groups, like ABC's Black-centered reboot of "The Wonder Years" or the LGBTQ-focused revamp of "A League Of Their Own" on Prime Video. So far, I'm counting nearly a dozen shows featuring these kinds of characters and subjects that won't return for 2024.

SUMMERS: Eric, I want to stick with the streamers here for just a moment. We've already seen a bunch of them hike up their prices this year. What can we expect to see on that front in the new year?

DEGGANS: Unfortunately, more of the same. These prices are going to go up as Wall Street continues to pressure the streaming services for profits. So on January 29, for example, Amazon is going to charge $2.99 more per month for ad-free streaming. The trade magazine variety reported that in October, seven top streaming services, including Disney+, Netflix and Apple TV+, raised their monthly fees an average of 23%. I mean, I think we're going to see also more bundling together of services, particularly if Warner Bros. Discovery, which owns HBO and CNN, pursues this deal that they're considering now to purchase or merge with Paramount Global, which owns cable channels like MTV and BET along with the CBS Network and Paramount+.

SUMMERS: How could a deal like that potentially affect what viewers see?

DEGGANS: Well, let's leave aside the question of whether it's an unfair monopoly, which is a big question. But let's imagine if Warner Bros. Discovery's Max streaming service, which has HBO and CNN, Discovery networks - if they could add CBS shows and programs like "Yellowstone". I mean, in a way, it's back to the future. Streaming services were supposed to free consumers from paying for cable channels they didn't watch, but it's sometimes cheaper or more convenient to bundle these platforms together, even in streaming.

SUMMERS: Eric, we've talked a lot about the challenges, but I want to end by asking you about the good. What are you looking forward to in 2024?

DEGGANS: Well, I'm really excited by new seasons from a lot of shows, like HBO's "True Detective," a new series from "The Walking Dead" universe with hero Rick Grimes and a new "Alien" TV series all coming in 2024.

SUMMERS: That's NPR TV critic Eric Deggans. Thank you.

DEGGANS: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Eric Deggans is NPR's first full-time TV critic.
News from Alabama Public Radio is a public service in association with the University of Alabama. We depend on your help to keep our programming on the air and online. Please consider supporting the news you rely on with a donation today. Every contribution, no matter the size, propels our vital coverage. Thank you.